A Thank You To Shayne Gostisbehere

PHILADELPHIA, PA - JANUARY 19: Shayne Gostisbehere #53 of the Philadelphia Flyers celebrates with teammates after scoring a goal against the Toronto Maple Leafs during the third period at Wells Fargo Center on January 19, 2016 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Toronto Maple Leafs won, 3-2. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
PHILADELPHIA, PA - JANUARY 19: Shayne Gostisbehere #53 of the Philadelphia Flyers celebrates with teammates after scoring a goal against the Toronto Maple Leafs during the third period at Wells Fargo Center on January 19, 2016 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Toronto Maple Leafs won, 3-2. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images) /

On Thursday afternoon, Shayne Gostisbehere was traded from the Philadelphia Flyers to the Arizona Coyotes. It was a salary cap dump by Flyers general manager Chuck Fletcher to give the Flyers more space to work with for any potential trades or signings in free agency. While it makes sense for the team and perhaps for Gostisbehere, given the struggles he’s had in Philadelphia, sentimentally it hurts.

Shayne was my favorite prospect growing up. I watched his Frozen Four highlights when he was at Union College countless times. I tried to keep up as much as I could with him when he was in the AHL with the Phantoms. I absolutely loved him. When he was recalled in 2014-15 for two games, I was so excited and was glued to my television watching him play against Detroit and Los Angeles before being sent back to Lehigh Valley. When he came back to the Flyers in 2015-16, everyone got a taste of the player who would help this team in so many ways they couldn’t have imagined.

I remember when he earned the assist on Wayne Simmonds’ tying goal against the Carolina Hurricanes in his first game of the season, which would be his first NHL point. In the next game against the Los Angeles Kings, everyone remembers the power-play bullet from the point he unleashed on Jonathan Quick to score his first NHL goal. He had immediately breathed new life into a team struggling to find any rhythm under a new head coach who was guiding a roster that most pundits in the nation had missing the postseason.

I remember the 15-game point streak, the longest by a rookie defenseman in NHL history. My mom got me his jersey for my birthday and it came right before the first game of his streak against the Pittsburgh Penguins. I still have that sweater hung up and I had it signed by the man himself last year. The goal against Toronto in the 15th and final game of the streak was my favorite moment. Seeing him speed up the middle of the ice like a white and orange cheetah and catching the Maple Leafs defense napping to score the overtime winner on James Reimer was a moment where I was absolutely elated and screamed with so much joy. That streak is one of the crowning moments of Ghost’s career, and I’m glad I was able to witness it. He finished 2nd in Calder Trophy voting, and a couple of months later he was representing Team North America on the international stage at the World Cup of Hockey, donning that famous #53 in familiar black and orange colors. I have that jersey hung up as well.

His 2016-17 season wasn’t as good, but I did get to see him in person for the very first time. My dad and I made the 4-hour drive from Syracuse and saw Ghost and the Flyers take on the New Jersey Devils on January 21st, 2017 at Wells Fargo Center, one year to the day that I got his jersey. I was so happy to see him, Claude Giroux, and Steve Mason play even though they lost 4-1 that night. It was my first NHL game and I was just happy I got to see my heroes take the ice with my own eyes. The next night, when we were out taking in the city, the Flyers rebounded and beat the New York Islanders in overtime and Ghost contributed with an assist on Giroux’s overtime winner. We were able to catch the game at Field House in Reading Terminal Market and it was awesome to watch.

His 2017-18 season was by far his best season. He racked up 65 points, and I got to see him play again, this time against the Winnipeg Jets. He didn’t score but you could just see the smooth skating and offensive aggression in his game reappear from two seasons prior, and that made me happy that my favorite defenseman found his game again.

His 2018-19 and 2019-20 seasons left a lot more to be desired, but I did get to see him play twice in that stretch. Once against the Carolina Hurricanes, and once in the AHL. He was on a rehab assignment with the Phantoms and his last game before his call-up was here in Syracuse against the Crunch. I immediately cleared all my plans and told my dad we were going. Truth be told, I wore my Connor Ingram Crunch jersey when I entered the old War Memorial, but I took it off in the third period and cheered on Shayne and the Phantoms, leaving the building in my Flyers hoodie instead. Ghost recorded an assist late in the game but the Phantoms lost 4-3.

I brought one of my jerseys with me, the plain orange and white #53 that my mom had given me four years earlier, in the hopes that Shayne would stop by and sign it after the game. Sure enough, he gave me and the small crowd gathered outside the visitors’ exit exactly what we wanted. I was so thrilled to get my jersey signed by him and he couldn’t have been nicer about it. I also had Morgan Frost sign his white #48 jersey for me that same night, but Ghost was the player I wanted to meet more than anyone.

I got to see him play once more this season, another 4-1 loss to the Devils in Philadelphia. I wore his Reverse Retro jersey I had just gotten a few weeks before, not knowing it would be the last time I’d see him in Orange and Black. I suppose it’s only fitting that my last time seeing him ended the same way it began, in a fashion of a three-goal embarrassment to the rivals up the Turnpike. But I’ll never forget the memories he provided me and so many other fans with over the years.

Not only was he a focal part of the team on the ice, but he was an outstanding person off the ice as well. Gostisbehere his fiancée Gina’s contributions to the Philadelphia community have been amazing throughout their time here. The two have helped tremendously with the Pennsylvania SPCA, helping with fundraisers and shouting out events for the organization. Shayne, along with many Flyers, was also a frequent visitor of the children that participated in Snider Hockey. He also helped raise awareness for N95 mask shortages during the heart of the COVID-19 pandemic. Shayne and Gina have been an integral part of making Philadelphia a great place to live and have been prime examples of what it means to be involved in the community and it is another area in which he’ll be missed.

I understand he wasn’t the second coming of Bobby Orr. I know that he has some shortcomings defensively and he was going to be moved somehow, but it didn’t make it any less painful. He was, and still is, one of my favorite players in the world and I wish him all the best with the Coyotes. You better believe I’ll be getting his Arizona sweater and will be down at Wells Fargo Center when he makes his return to the city he called home for seven seasons. He is a great player and an even more fantastic human and his departure will be felt heavily.

Thank you for everything Shayne. I’ll miss you.